Spring sports are in full swing, as boys and girls head to the baseball and softball diamonds, lacrosse players break out their sticks and others lace up their soccer cleats. This year, there’s somewhere new kids are heading: the cricket pitch.
Woodbury resident Sushil Singh noticed the rise in popularity of cricket through personal experience—he’s been playing locally for more than five years. Not too long ago, Singh participated in a local tournament. After seeing the great turnout of spectators, a group of local parents, including Woodbury resident Jitender Goswami, got together and decided it was time to form a team for their kids. “I was surprised at how many people came out to the tournament,” Singh says. “It has really gathered steam in Woodbury.”
The team, named MN Mustangs, was an immediate hit. The first time the team played together was at the Midwest Zone Youth Cricked Alliance Cup in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2021. While most new teams, regardless of the sport, have a few growing pains, the Mustangs had no issue finding its groove and ended the tournament in second place.
The Mustangs, a team for those 14-years-old or younger, play sanctioned events sponsored by USA Cricket, the national cricket league. They play against other national teams and, at the time of writing, is signed up for four events for this season and will be traveling to places including Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Missouri.
On the offseason, the team trains and rents out batting cages. And though the team has a competitive drive, Singh recognizes that it’s more than just winning and losing. He emphasizes the teamwork and leadership aspects of the game and wants the kids to develop those skills since it's vital in all facets of life. “I want to make sure players are working as a unit,” Singh says. “I want leaders to take over as leaders.”
Singh hopes to continue to grow the popularity of cricket in the community through both the Mustangs and other opportunities to get involved with the sport. With more awareness and education, Singh knows more people will learn to love the sport just like the MN Mustangs team members did. “Seeing all of those kids come together and play was awesome,” Singh says. “I was surprised to see so many people in Woodbury love cricket.”
Cricket, which is popular in countries like India and Australia, is often compared to baseball. Here's a breakdown.
Each team has 12 players—the fielding team has one bowler (a pitcher), one wicket-keeper (a catcher), and the remaining 10 players are spread across the field. The field is oval shaped, and in the middle is a rectangle—on each end are stumps with bails on top. This is where the pitching and hitting happens.
The batting team sends up two players—one striker and one nonstriker. They stand on opposite sides of the rectangle. The bowler pitches the ball to the striker; if the striker makes contact, that player and the nonstriker run to switch positions. If they successfully do so, they score a run.
If the batted ball is caught in the air by the fielding team, the striker is out, and no run can be scored. An out is also recorded if the fielding team knocks over a bail with the ball before the striker and nonstriker switch places or if the bowler knocks over a bail with the pitch.
Games end when each team has had its designated number of chances to bat. The number of at-bats each team gets is determined by the format of the game being played. Games can take as long as eight hours, while some formats are played out over a series of days.